Published: May 27th, 2015
Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.
When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family–a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.
Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…
1. How Aeley’s story and The Republic Series were born and what will come next?
The answer to both is my story Rule Breaker, a short novella in the Won’t Back Down anthology from Less Than Three Press. That story was about Gren (also in Aeley’s story), but Aeley made an appearance because her brother was the antagonist. It’s where her story actually starts. I enjoyed working with that world and it sparked more ideas involving different characters, leading to The Republic series. When my publisher put out a submission call for stories about damsels in distress, I was inspired to write Aeley’s story.
As for what comes next: I’m thrilled to say I’m working on the next book in the series, Four. Aeley’s best friend, Mayr, has demanded his own story, so I’m obliging! It’ll reveal his deepest secrets, broken heart, and his feelings for a kind and terribly conflicted priest, Tash. It’s a story of the struggle between romantic love and spiritual devotion with a darker spin. Mayr’s a man of the law, while Tash used to be a gangster. Love hasn’t been kind to either of them – but every losing streak needs to end.
2. How important are the relationships in The Republic Series?
They’re everything! Like other romances, the focus is on the intimate relationships blooming between the respective main characters, with subplot to give each book some breadth. But outside of that, other relationships are incredibly important. Whether they are familial, friendly, work-related, or antagonistic, each plays a very specific role in each book. In The Republic series, family is a particular concern – a point of pride – and some families will do anything to protect their reputations. Actually, family seems to be one of the on-going themes in the series, for both good and bad. In Aeley’s case, her sister-like relationship with Mayr gives her a chance to show a different side, stay sane, and hook up with Lira.
3. What is the significance of the cover – with no spoiler, please, or how important is a cover for the story?
The significance is two-fold. On a superficial level, the model resembles the image I have of Aeley. But on a deeper level, the blindfold represents what Aeley doesn’t see going on; what people are trying to do to her. It also complements the title.
4. There is fantasy in A Question of Counsel. What is Fantasy role and are there any of its aspects you tried to avoid?
I’m a fantasy buff by nature, so this came up as a high fantasy, meaning it takes place in a secondary (fantastical) world. While it involves things that are similar to our world, there are differences: names, roles, landscape, spirituality, the rules of society, and the use of swords and knives rather than guns. Since I aim to be open to all ideas, I didn’t purposely avoid any aspects. My main objectives were to keep things consistent with what I’d started in Rule Breaker and expand on it, going with what their world looks like in my head. At the end, it seems to be a mix of the typical medieval flavour and the 17th century, with pure fantasy filling in the gaps.
5. In “A Question of Counsel” there are at least two elements (homosexual relationships and woman as a political leader) that, even in our days, are not entirely “comfortable” from some people. Are there any messages sent between the lines?
Good question. While I’d probably be lying if I said “no”, I will say it’s not consciously intended. I didn’t set out to say a particular message; I just wanted to tell the story. However, the truth is I support equal rights, including the right to choose one’s romantic partner(s) regardless of gender identity and the right for women and trans* individuals to have the same opportunities as men. I find discrimination steals opportunities to learn, grow, and love. We’re stronger when we embrace diversity. And I love diversity, so it’s all fair-game when I write. That’s one awesome thing about writing fantasy: I can create a world that’s more inclusive on those levels while exploring other issues. It certainly offers new storytelling opportunities.
About the author:
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Ontario, Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, it has been this diversity that has inspired Archer’s love of toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and crazy situations.
Archer started writing stories at age six and became “that kid” with their nose in the books and a pen in their hand, pursuing the challenges of writing novels at age thirteen and conquering the dread of poetry at fifteen. Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged.
When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek who has too many hobbies, keeping busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along, especially if it is in technological form. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.